People in Indianapolis are overdosing on drugs laced with bug spray

Korin Miller

Officials in Indianapolis say they’re investigating an outbreak of overdoses tied to people who have used a street drug that’s mixed with bug spray.

KD, which is a mixture of marijuana, tobacco, or synthetic marijuana known as Spice or K2 doused in bug spray like Raid, is turning people into “zombies,” Capt. Chris Major of the Indianapolis Fire Department told CBS affiliate WTTV. People are taking KD by smoking it, according to the station, and the scary effects kick in pretty quickly. “Their movements are slow and lethargic, a lot of drooling and a loss of function. We find them with their clothes off, eating the grass, pulling dirt out of the ground and trying to put it in their mouth,” Major said.

“We find people passed out with it still in their hand. That is how fast it has an effect on them,” said Major, who added that his team has had to respond to nearly a dozen KD overdoses in a single day, and that they’ve sometimes treated the same person multiple times in a day. “They do not know what is in this stuff or who has made it, so they are all taking chance, which for some reason they are willing to do,” he said.

As you can probably guess, it’s not great for your health to ingest anything that contains bug spray. “It’s a terrible idea,” Daniel Rusyniak, MD, medical director of the Indiana Poison Center at Indiana University Health, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Bug spray contains a few ingredients that could cause these effects, Rusyniak says. One is pyrethroid, a synthetic compound that’s similar to the natural pyrethrins produced by chrysanthemums. “It’s a natural insecticide that’s good at killing bugs,” Rusyniak says.

In bugs, pyrethroids can cause involuntary twitching that causes them to become paralyzed from overstimulation and eventually die, he explains. People can get very sick from pyrethroids, but they usually have to be exposed to a lot of it — and it’s unlikely that just spraying bug spray on marijuana will cause someone to become really sick like this, Rusyniak says. Instead, the drugs would need to contain heavy, concentrated doses of bug spray. If that happens, someone may experience seizures, become confused and agitated, and even fall into a coma.

Bug spray also contains hydrocarbon, a solvent that can cause lung injury if you breathe it in, Rusyniak says.

However, it’s hard to know whether it’s the bug spray or K2 that’s actually causing these zombie-like behaviors, given that K2 has also been linked to similar symptoms, Rusyniak says. “It would be difficult for us to tease out what part what might have been bug spray and synthetic marijuana,” he says.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a new idea. People have been mixing bug spray, rat poison, and other seemingly inadvisable ingredients with street drugs for years. And, while most people would be scared to try something like this, Rusyniak says it just adds to the appeal for some addicts: “In some cases, it will increase people’s desire to use these products.”

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